, Volume 7, Issue 1-2, pp 99-107
Date: 13 Jul 2007

Provenance Explorer-a graphical interface for constructing scientific publication packages from provenance trails

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Abstract

Scientific communities are under increasing pressure from funding organizations to publish their raw data, in addition to their traditional publications, in open archives. Many scientists would be willing to do this if they had tools that streamlined the process and exposed simple provenance information, i.e., enough to explain the methodology and validate the results without compromising the author’s intellectual property or competitive advantage. This paper presents Provenance Explorer, a tool that enables the provenance trail associated with a scientific discovery process to be visualized and explored through a graphical user interface (GUI). Based on RDF graphs, it displays the sequence of data, states and events associated with a scientific workflow, illustrating the methodology that led to the published results. The GUI also allows permitted users to expand selected links between nodes to reveal more fine-grained information and sub-workflows. But more importantly, the system enables scientists to selectively construct “scientific publication packages” by choosing particular nodes from the visual provenance trail and dragging-and-dropping them into an RDF package which can be uploaded to an archive or repository for publication or e-learning. The provenance relationships between the individual components in the package are automatically inferred using a rules-based inferencing engine.